Its time again for Restaurant Month in Marin County! From cozy and casual to elegant and refined, Marin County is known throughout the country for its agriculture and family farms. Many Marin restaurants source their food from farms and farmers markets directly, providing guests an array of culinary choices to delight their palate.
North BayCross the Golden Gate Bridge and follow Highway 1 to enter a natural wonderland. The Marin Headlands to the west offers some of the best riding in the world, with stunning views of ocean, mountains, and city. East are the charming hamlets of Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, and many quaint villages missed by the travelers on the fast track along the coast.
Rarely do you find a place so inviting, so welcoming, that you declare it the perfect place to land after a fabulous day on two wheels. After spending many a weekend at The Elk Cove Inn and Spa in the town of Elk, it's become the only place I want to land after wandering the Mendocino Coastline. It was voted one of the most motorcycle-friendly inns in California not only for its motorcycle-only parking area, but for its last-minute specials for the riding crowd. With its stunning views and bountiful homemade breakfast buffet, The Elk Cove Inn and Spa will soon become your favorite as well.
Having moved to Davis from Sonoma County over 13 years ago, the drudge of Highway 80 became unbearable, especially when fighting SUVs in peak Lake Tahoe tourist seasons. There had to be a more scenic, motorcycle friendly route to visit family in Healdsburg and to the beaches of the Pacific Coast where I spent many a weekend as a kiddo. It didn't take long to discover that Highway 128 was going to be the two-lane adventure that would to save me from the four-lane monster. After 10 years of happy exploration I've found the perfect path to the ocean with only 12 miles of freeway to land you in the quaint seaside town of Elk, transforming a freeway grind into a day of twisties through wine country and redwood forest to experience all that makes Northern California so very special.
Adventure riding can be done around the block or around the world. Around the block for me is the Lost Coast in the westernmost part of California, between Fort Bragg and Eureka. It’s called the Lost Coast because so many people left the area during the Great Depression. It was further lost because the steep mountains of the King Range forced the builders of Routes 1 and 101 to turn inland. But there are roads in there, and it’s a serene and empty place to ride, as it’s one of the least populated parts of California. On my last ride there I saw more motorcycles than cars. Here’s how to take your adventure ride to the Lost Coast.
If you need an excuse to motorcycle to the Mendocino coast, check out Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg this Labor Day weekend. Named for the bigger-than-life logger and his giant blue ox, Paul Bunyan Days celebrates the history of Fort Bragg and pays tribute to the strength of the people who live here. This year marks the 74th anniversary of the annual event, held Labor Day Weekend, September 1–3.
Riding to Bodega Bay from Sebastapol on the Bohemian Highway, my group zoomed right by Freestone and Wild Flour Bread but I came to a full stop and stood in line with about 20 people including a tough-looking guy on a Harley who said he rides two hours here every weekend to stock up on bread.
The sirens went off yesterday not at their designated time which is on Tuesday mid-day. I have to admit I ignored them until a friend called and said are you evacuating? By then I noticed neighbors outside looking over the hills and went out to join them in horrified silence at the sight of a huge black cloud of smoke getting bigger every second. Apparently had been a few explosions at the refinery and now it was on fire, burning crude oil and sending poison into the air.
A weekend's journey beach-bound to Mendocino, Caspar, Fort Bragg, Gualala, and Point Arena becomes a cornucopia of ride-to-eat destinations. But, the real delectable delight would be our last-minute detour inland, riding the twisties through Comptche and Booneville to Mountain View Road, becoming the unexpected highlight of the tour.
The plan is is motion, the destination set: Ride some of the twistiest roads connecting Mendocino and Lake counties, find a better-than-decent lunch in Lakeport, overlooking beautiful Clear Lake, and ride some more. The only meals I've partaken of in Lakeport prior to today are burgers and fries at the drive-in (Renee’s Cafe with 15 flavors of milkshake, most excellent on a hot Lake County day), burgers and fries at the local chain restaurant, or burgers and fries at Lakeport Speedway (but more on that later). Today we'll be sampling the fare at Park Place Restaurant, reputedly one of the finer eateries in town.
Summer's solstice brings the sun and heat to the Napa Valley to ripen the abundant multifarious varieties of local vines, and also cultivates the visiting crowds. Rather than watching my temperature gauge go up and burn out a clutch cable, I prefer to take roads less travelled. My objective for the day: to leisurely make my way to the charming little town of St. Helena in the Napa Valley by intersecting mountain ranges, valleys and scenic roads that are fun, challenging, and practically car-free!